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Crimes against English: Your vs. You’re

There are two little words that are so often brutalised in written English that they sometimes look like characters out of Eastenders.  I am considering issuing a warrant for the arrest of anyone caught abusing the words your and you’re.

Why is it wrong to confuse these two words when they sound the same?  Well my dear reader, here is why it is wrong.  ‘You need to know your shit and when you’re shit!’ We put this in as aide-mémoire, but if it offends you then we apologise.

Your and you’re, are homophones and to the uninterested this means that they sound the same but are spelt differently and have a different meaning.

I was so impressed with the young Harry Styles from One Direction that I am currently trying to offer him a job with the grammar police.  He has since agreed to assist me in putting a stop to the abuse of English grammar.  Whilst performing at a concert in Philadelphia, he was so frightened that stupid might become contagious he corrected a fan’s sign for her, which he had noticed read – ‘Hi Harry your so nice’ he corrected it to ‘Hi Harry you’re so nice’.

Your is a possessive adjective and comes before the noun or pronoun that it is referring to.

You’re is a contraction of two words ‘you are’ and nothing more.  The apostrophe has only one use here and that is to replace the letter ‘a’.

Still unsure about which one to use then always apply this simple test – if you can replace the contraction you’re with you are and the sentence reads the same, then this is the one for you.  If, on the other hand, you can’t (notice another contraction here) then DON’T (crikey what is it with me and contractions).  Never ever under any circumstance write your are because you will look silly and be frowned upon for like eternity. On the other hand you will be well qualified for a starring role in EastEnders.

Put yourself to the test:

  1. ……….. welcome. (your/you’re)
  2. Do you understand what ……………. writing? (your/you’re)
  3. Do you agree with ……………. answer above having read this question? (your/you’re)
  4. Hope ………….. okay. (your/you’re)
  5. I don’t believe ………….. father. (your/you’re)
  6. I don’t believe …………. a father. (your/you’re)
  7. ……….. happy ……….. lucky number hit the jackpot. (your/you’re) (your/you’re)
  8. What is ………. opinion on the Brexit? (your/you’re)
  9. ……… eyes look like ………… tired. (your/you’re) (your/you’re)
  10. Where …………. going later today is where ………….. parents first met. (your/you’re) (your/you’re)

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